At West Village’s Alger House—usually a posh, turn-of-the-century home where Turkish rugs cover hardwood, old paintings of hunting dogs hang on the walls and, last night, a fancy bar was re-adorned to serve vitaminwater—all eyes were on the stage, waiting for the young star to appear. JoJo’s four-piece band and two backup singers stood at the ready, but she was nowhere to be seen when her powerful voice first washed across the room; she descended, near the middle of the venue, down an iron spiral staircase, slowly, like a star performing in a major Gene Kelly production. Under twinkling lights in a simple white dress, the 22-year-old singer whose first #1 single came, amazingly, nine years ago, delivered a heartfelt and glamorous set for this summer’s vitaminwater and The FADER #uncapped series.
“Before we go any further, I think it’s right that we take it back,” she smiled, before launching into “Leave (Get Out),” a song from her first album that she later told Miss Info was recorded before she’d ever been kissed. (That full interview will be coming soon.) JoJo has clearly grown up, though, judging by her moving and explicit take on Drake’s “Marvins Room,” a rendition that’s chorus—ending on I’m still in your head—she accentuated last night with a mockingly psychotic laugh. She brought in quite the team around her for “Anything,” one of her poppiest hits, updating it with not only a rising singer and guitarist named Francesco (“My favorite 17-year-old from Toronto ever!” she cheered him on) but Casey Veggies, the Los Angeles #uncapped veteran with rap’s brightest grin. Watch it above, and even better for you, next week we’ll have a free download of JoJo and Casey Veggies’ new “Anything (#uncapped Remix)”.
The reason JoJo was the youngest person to score a solo #1 hit, and that she was so spectacular last night at Alger House is very simple: she has a phenomenal voice, like butterflies being released from a cage. She sounded best in the climactic moments when she led everyone into the chorus on tracks like “Demonstrate” and “Boy Without a Heart,” handed it over to the backup singers and harmonized over the top, flying off script in her boldest and most confident voice, clearly in a league of her own. “I’m going to do something I’m really scared to do,” she said at one point. “I’m going to do a Sade cover.” Her take on “Sweetest Taboo” was a bit experimental, with a bass-y and almost house music spin, but JoJo had no reason to be worried—that voice will hold her down anywhere.
See photos of the party below, and for interviews and performances from all of this (and past) year’s #uncapped events, check out the vitaminwater YouTube channel. #uncapped is making Monday nights all summer long less boring with surprise performances in traditionally mundane venues. For chances to win tickets and up-to-the-minute location reveals, follow vitaminwater and FADER on Twitter.